Riverview Gardens resident Lily Dann is helped from the Ipswich Region Community Church evacuation centre at Ripley by Rochelle Manning of Ipswich Hospital.
Riverview Gardens resident Lily Dann is helped from the Ipswich Region Community Church evacuation centre at Ripley by Rochelle Manning of Ipswich Hospital. David Nielsen

Church cares for elderly in floods

AN unexpected call from Ipswich City Council on Tuesday night was the start of a traumatic three days at the Ipswich Regional Community Church.

Exhausted Pastor Mark Edwards said a “mini hospital” had to be set up when about 165 residents from the Salvation Army Riverview Gardens nursing home were forced to flee.

Within an hour of first receiving the call from council, the aged-care residents began arriving by the busload at the Ripley Church.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” an emotional Pastor Edwards said yesterday.

“We had a real problem on our hands and we just called on all our volunteers.

“We basically had to set up a temporary medical centre – people were arriving with and without medications – they were disoriented and confused and distressed.”

Aged mostly in their 70s, 80s and 90s, the displaced residents were forced to tough it out for several hours until beds and pillows could be delivered to the church.

The church was able to get one-inch mattresses on the first night, which were replaced by stretchers on Wednesday night, allowing many of the residents to get a good night’s sleep.

Pastor Edwards broke down into tears when he began recalling the sight of all the elderly trying to settle in to their new surroundings.

“It’s something I’ll never forget,” he said.

But his spirits were lifted when he thought about the massive contributions made at the evacuation centre by staff of Ipswich City Council, general members of the public and his own band of volunteers.

“The first morning we decided we would serve up cereal, so some guy just arrived with all this milk,” he said.

“At first there were no pillows, so we put the call out and people just started turning up with pillows.

“We had enough linen so that there were replacements if it was soiled.

“Ipswich City Council was unbelievably good – anything we needed was sourced.”

At the end of all the terror and confusion, there was some good news for the nursing home residents.

Their home was spared the flood damage that has broken the hearts of so many other Ipswich residents this week and they were able to return home yesterday.

In the end, all that was lost was some food in the refrigerators due to the loss of power.

A group of about 80 volunteers was sent out to Riverview Gardens to remove spoiled food and do a full clean-up before the residents returned in the afternoon.

Evac centres

Ipswich Showground

St Joseph’s Church hall, North Ipswich

Karalee State School community hall



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